Mentors needed for children on waiting list

A positive relationship between a child and adult can have a lasting impact. Children with role models are more likely to succeed than those who do not.

So why are there so many children on the waiting list at one of our local mentoring programs?

"He said 'well i stopped getting into trouble as much lately' and i said well why is that? and he said because we started hanging out together and i just thought we should be better," said McClanahan.

Many children, however, won't get that opportunity. Danielle Mcinerney is CEO of big brothers big sisters west Alabama. She says the need outnumbers the resources. "We have an 84 child long waiting list. 84 children on a waiting list hoping to be matched with a big," said McInerney.

McInerney says they're plagued by two major problems. Lack of funding and a need for volunteers. It takes about $600 dollars to pair up a child and their Big. But McInerney says mentorship's don't seem to be a priority among county and federal leaders. "There used to be program called mentoring children of prisoners. It was a federal program and it was cut a year and half ago. That funding was the largest percent of funding in the agency. So when we lost that it crippled us," she said.

As for volunteers, the call to action is aimed largely at men. "As unfortunate as it is, the fact remains that a lot of the children don't have a male role model in their lives," she said.

So here's how the program works. At-risk children ages 6-18 spend time with their big brother or sister at least once a week.

McClhanan says a small amount of time makes a difference. However, the organization faces the same challenges in all 400 of their sites nation wide. And if something doesn't give, mcinerney says our future is at stake. "The unfortunate part of our society today is everybody waits for their neighbor to do what needs to be done instead of doing it themselves. Are they really so busy that they couldn't do an hour that makes an impact on a child for the rest of their lives," she said.

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